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Pane di Altamura (Semolina Sourdough) from Daniel Leader's 'Local Breads'

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Pane di Altamura (Semolina Sourdough) from Daniel Leader's 'Local Breads'

I finally had some success with Daniel Leader's Pane di Altamura (Semolina Sourdough).


The problem, as other posters noted, is that the recipe is almost certainly in error (or it assumes a durum semolina with much greater absorption than the ones I can purchase. This time it was Bob's Redmill). 
Without correction, it results in a very high-hydration dough (ciabatta-like!) that wouldn't be able to hold a shape. Expect +/- 25% correction in flour/water, respectively.
I anticipated a second-rise after shaping, but there's none mentioned. It's right into the oven. I'd consider this another error, but the oven-spring is more than I expected for a dough that was about 1.5" high on oven insert. Then again, the bread is said to be renowned for its awesome size, so maybe there needs to be a second rise? What say ye?
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The crust is its best feature, having a really nice mouth-feel.
The crumb is tight and dense (not as dense as my previous attempts, which were essentially chewable semolina rocks).
It's about 80% as dense as a well-made bagel and is very moist, even after baking a long time (55 @ 450 F). The moisture is probably why it has such a long shelf-life; Leader says 5 days.
The flavor is quite nice: subtle, sour, sweet, not-at-all boring like some semolina breads, which require dosing with sesame seeds or whatnot to coax flavor into them.
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Will I make it again? I don't know.
If I do, I'll try a different recipe before returning to Leader's, if only to see the contrast.


suave's picture
suave

Well, the way I see it, your problem is two-fold.  First, in my opinion, the recipe is messed up.  I've never tried it, I admit, but it is well known that hydration for the dough for pane di Altamura is supposed to be 60%, Leader has what, 72%?  No wonder it felt like ciabatta.  Second is your flour.  I've had some exposure to both semolina and durum flour and in my experience semolina can be used in up 50% ratio and even then you can feel the difference in crumb texture and taste, particularly on quick-rise breads.  I think that for 100% durum bread you just need to bite the bullet and buy durum flour.


Still, you got a nice looking bread.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

But semolina is 100% durum flour, isn't it?


(Oh, and thanks for compliment).

suave's picture
suave

Semolina is 100% durum wheat.  I would not call it a flour though.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I guess what I'm asking is, "If the recipe calls for fine semolina durum flour (for both the sourdough and the dough proper) and I use No. 1 Durum Wheat Semolina Flour (from Bob's Redmill), am I using the correct ingredient?"

suave's picture
suave

Bob's Redmill call it "flour", in reality it is a relatively fine meal.  Everyone else, and I've used probably half a dozen different products of exactly the same grind calls it semolina.  On the other hand, durum flour (semola rimacinata, if you are lucky enough to have access to imported stuff), which is what used for Altamura-like breads is a much finer grind, not quite as fine as regular flour but very, very close.


Re: video - I did not realize you have not seen that before. It is actually extremely useful as it explains timings and things like wrapping of the dough.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

OK. I understand now.


When I saw the consistency of the dough in the video, I understood immediately what you meant.


I could mix Bob's Redmill Semolina all day and not get a dough consistent with what's in the video. I might get something approximate it if I add a bit of white flour like KAB or some such, but that would be inauthentic.


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Stupid question: If I take granulated sugar and pulse it a food processor, I make superfine sugar, or a very fine, almost powdered sugar. Do you think I could do the same with semolina they sell in the US (Bob's, Whole Foods, etc.), make a superfine semolina? I imagine the heat would damage it or worse.

suave's picture
suave

Yes, I do the same trick to get caster sugar, I'm not sure it would work quite as well with flour, sugar is much more brittle.  I would not worry about autenticity too much though - pane di Altamura is a PDO bread, meaning that to be called that a very strict and specific set of conditions must be satisfied.


The dough is absolutely wonderful - you would expect it to be dense at 60% hydration, it is nothing of the sort - it is soft, pliable, relatively weak and not the least bit sticky.  "U sckuanète" does not look quite like Leader's bread, but you have already figured it out.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Daniel Leader says what you said about the flour.


It was right there for me to read (or miss) all along:



Take care to buy semolina flour that has been finely ground. This is sometimes labeled fancy or extra fancy durum. It will feel as smooth as powder, without any trace of grit from from bran or germ. Semolina flour that feels sandy and coarse can be used in combination with other flours in other breads, but will not work in recipes that require 100% semolina flour. 




-Leader, Daniel, and Lauren Chattman. "Chapter 11. Untouched By Time: The Singular Case of Pane Di Altamura." Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007. 250. Print.



 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,


You'll probably find this thread instructive [see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17308/semolina-durum-bread-and-sourdough-seed-bread ] especially Nico's concise explanation of ALL the different grades of "semolina" products currently available in Italy.


I think an appreciation of the derivation of semolina as a by-product from wheat bolted into white flour is essential to understanding the traditional product as it really would have been made.   Strictly, and traditionally, I don't believe semolina is "durum flour".   It's just the modern mass produced versions are done using durum flour as that is the common surviving strain best suited to making the modern product, and the variety common in Italy, where these products have continuosly remained popular.


I use a coarse ground semolina from my local stoneground mill, which has a bolter to produce white flour traditionally.   The grain is organic and grown locally in Northumberland...just a couple of km from the mill, on the owner's own farm.   It is a sativa strain, a rare traditional variety, sourced from Switzerland, and it grows well over a metre tall in the field.   It is not durum, but the by-product I use most certainly is semolina...but not as many would now know it.   Given that Pane d'Altamura is definietely a traditional regional bread, I hope you see where I'm coming from.


After all that, I'm not sure how much help I can be on the hydration front.   Usually, I've expected to get 63% hydration on the semolina I use.   I can do this by using autolyse technique and only gentle mixing...slow speed on an electric mixer is fine.   There might also be something useful in this post if you take a look at the section on "Bermaline" bread.   See: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18638/bread-adventures-july-2010


Good luck, and best wishes


Andy

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Thanks for the resources, Andy.


I'll have a look.


I was going to give up on it, but now I have a challenge...


...and after watching this video, I know I'm doing it all wrong (or Leader's recipe has led me astray): wrong flour, hydration, shaping, etc. 


lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

I love it! Of course, I can't understand Italian (I'm blaming my mom for actually forgetting the Italian language she grew up speaking, as a second generation Sicilian, lol). This documents not just a traditional way of making bread, but has just about everything in the video that's important to an Italian: food (bread), family, young & old - children, grandpa and grandma (I'm assuming - and at the credits "Nonno" was listed), and faith. I particularly love how the grandpa was sharing a most important story - how grandma made bread (looks like he may have been telling them how it was made 'in the old days,' perhaps).


Now I want to make this bread myself. I've never heard of it - love how it shows the community oven being used - and how her bread kneading was done in the bedroom (which, I am sure, was clean enough to eat off of the floor, not like mine, haha).


This is the what I really wish I could study (I've been going to community college for a few yrs now, and am just starting working on a bachelor's in psychology). I love the real stories that paint history. I can't begin to thank you enough for posting this.


Lynne